Objective: To describe long-term psychological morbidity, unmet supportive care needs, positive changes, sexual outcomes and relationship satisfaction in partners of gynaecologic cancer survivors, as compared with respective survivors.
Method: Self-report measures were administered to a cross-sectional sample of 68 partners recruited via patient survivors.
Results: Rates of depression and anxiety among partners were 8.8% and 10.3%, respectively. Anxiety was higher among survivors than partners (P=0.003). Partners reported a mean of 3.25 unmet needs and 48.5% had at least one unmet need. At least one positive change was reported by 66.2% of partners. Greater number of unmet needs was the most important predictor of both anxiety (beta=0.39; P=0.001) and depression (beta=0.45; P<0.001). Poor relationship satisfaction independently predicted greater anxiety (beta=-0.28; P=0.01). Perceptions of relationship satisfaction did not differ within couples. Half of couples had been sexually active in the preceding month. Most reported no change in interest in physical contact (76.4%) or sex (70.6%), had excellent sexual function and high levels of satisfaction with sex life. Compared to partners, survivors perceived worse vaginal stenosis and dryness (both P=0.002) and worse satisfaction with (survivors') appearance (P<0.001). Partner outcomes were not associated with demographic variables or survivors' clinical characteristics.
Conclusion: The majority of partners reported excellent sexual outcomes and little perceived change since the survivors' diagnosis. The association between unmet needs and psychological morbidity suggests a useful target for further intervention. Despite methodological limitations, these data are novel and present a starting point for further investigation to improve outcomes for survivors and partners.
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